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Santa Monica Council Could Seek Grant to Expand Dial-A-Ride

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

February 10, 2015--Santa Monica City Council members Tuesday night were expected to approve a grant request to the MTA to fund the City’s transit program for seniors and the disabled through the end of 2018.

City Hall staff is recommending the Council apply for up to $280,000 from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to extend the City’s Dial-A-Ride service through December 31, 2018, and expand the program to include Saturday service, officials said.

Santa Monica began providing Dial-A-Ride as a pilot program in 2009, using City funds to pay for transporting seniors and the disabled to doctor’s appointments and other destinations.

But the service’s popularity soon outgrew the local resources to pay for it, said Stacy Rowe, a senior analyst with the City’s Cultural and Community Affairs Division.

“When we reached the capacity of what we could do with local dollar, we successfully applied for federal funding to expand the program and offer it through June of 2017,” said Rowe.

In 2013 the City received a $469,970 New Freedom grant provided through the Federal Transit Administration and awarded by MTA.

With that funding the City was also able to buy a new shuttle van this past September, and also to hire WISE & Healthy Aging to provide attendants to help seniors and the disabled get on and off the “paratransit” van, a staff report said.

The City’s expanded, federally funded Dial-A-Ride program began operating in February 2014, Rowe said.

Although the FTA no longer is accepting new applications for New Freedom grants, the City can still apply for Dial-A-Ride funding through a new program called Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals With Disabilities, Rowe said.

“Basically Congress decided to merge the two programs, so the grant we’re now applying for is under the new program,” she said. 

Some of the funding would be used to provide Dial-A-Ride services on Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The shuttle service now operates Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the staff report said.

“It is anticipated that the program will provide 7,800 rides” over the grant’s 18-month term, staff said.

To qualify for the grant, the City must kick in 25 percent in matching funding, or about $70,000, staff said.

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